A guest post by Susan McPherson . . .
I have been a Christian since I was 15; and not just a “church-going Christian” but also a follower of Christ, as in, I gave my life to Him, removed myself from my friends, found new friends who were like-minded, and began a life of seeking and trusting God. Sounds like everything would be great after that, right? What more could I do?
I had daily devotions, married a man who was a follower of Christ, and had many children. God was with me every step of the way and did many miraculous things in my life, and I saw lots of answers to prayer – regularly. I had a prayer group in my home, which was amazing, and we saw lots of answers to prayer on every level. And I had a church that was as close to a New Testament church as you can get that I had the privilege of being a part of for 43 years. I homeschooled and raised my 7 children in the Lord, filling them daily with the Word and teaching them about God and His ways.
Everything was rocking along pretty well until my children became teenagers. I thought homeschooling, church, and loving and caring for them as best I could would ensure godly children. You would think so! But, no, they began acting like I did as a teenager, before I was saved! So that’s when I started on a quest/search for what was missing.
My search led me first of all to a book called A Time for Repentance by Elizabeth Greer, and I had the privilege of being able to talk to the author occasionally. She knew and talked about stuff I had never heard of, mostly about repentance. Now, I had repented of my sins, so I thought that was enough. And it probably was for me but not for my children. All the generational sins were still there.
I found out my Granddaddy was a Shriner, a high order of Masons, and my son’s grandfather was a Mason. This was having serious effects on us! This was one of many generational sins that were uncovered. The author of that book A Time for Repentance made this statement that really rocked my boat: “When you see your children sinning … start repenting” (p. 126). Up to that point I had operated more out of “When you see your children sinning, work harder on them.” As in, pray harder and pull the rope in more on them. It was a very stressful time trying to control my growing children. And make them into good Christians.
My body began to fail – my back gave out, resulting in back surgery, and later on my endocrine system became pretty non-functional. So in my 40s after knowing the Lord and trying to follow Him for 25 years I began a new search called “Journey to Enter His Rest.” (Or, to find out who I really am in Christ.)
As I began to rest because of my back, my spirit began to calm down so He could speak to me. He first of all gave me the scripture in Matthew 11:28-30: “‘Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light’” (NASB). Thus began my search for “rest.”
I eventually learned this condition of mine had a name – performance orientation (P.O.). When I heard about it and then read the fruit of P.O. it described me perfectly. I thought I was doing good all that time all those years, and I was, and it was killing me and my children. This is what I learned about the “fruit” of a person who is performance based – as in, the foundation of P.O.:
- “tries to please” – I had done that my whole life because I quickly found out that if I pleased people, I got recognized and everyone liked me
- busy all the time
- can never do enough
- feels responsible for everything and everyone
- demands love/gifts
And many other traits. I think every one was characteristic of me!
I discovered the reason why I felt like I had to work to perform: lack of affection. Which also was my story. My parents, although very good Christian parents who provided well, did not know how to be affectionate. My insides were starving for acceptance, love, and recognition. So began my life, as a young child, of doing to get recognition and acceptance, which felt like love to me.
That carried right over into my Christian life. I tried to be the best Christian and make everyone around me be that way too. No wonder my kids were running the other way! They didn’t want any part of that, and I can see why.
So … I began repenting. Of course, being an unhealed P.O. person and just discovering this, I repented of everything! I was the best “repenter”! (See how P.O. affects you? One could say, there is no hope.) The truth is there really is no quick fix for P.O. But the first step is to “recognize” it. I had done that and knew that was me to a “T.” So began my life of repenting, thanks to my children.
Another thing about P.O. is that the only way for it to be healed (for it to get out of me) is through relationships. It can’t be “cast out,” and you can’t try to make it go away (that would be P.O.). The only way is to come into His rest and let others minister to us.
Needless to say, I still see P.O. or the fruit of it in my life today. If something unpleasant or bad happens to one of my children, my first thought is “What could I have done to have stopped or prevented that” or, “I should have done thus and such …” But I have come a long way!
Ask my friends, those who have been in relationship with me through this process and minister to me – still – constantly. Their lives to me are like water to a dry parched ground. This is the tribe Kerri talks about. We are all on a journey to find our true selves – who God created us to be – and live in His rest, not a life of striving.
By God’s grace and the relationships I have found, He is conforming me to His image.
I invite you to take this journey with us. Come out of whatever your foundational lie is that causes you to live less than who God created you to be. Discover His truth that will lead to your freedom!
Susan McPherson is a mother of seven and blessed with many beautiful grandchildren. After raising her children on a farm, she and her husband have moved to the mountains, where they are enjoying rest.